Medical disclaimer: always check with a physician before consuming wild plants, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. Michael Moore also has a glossary of medical terms in his books, and maps in later editions. )
Common Name: Burdock, Lappa, Clotbur
Latin Name: Arctium minus, A. lappa
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARMI2 all of lower Canada, all of the lower 48 states, except Florida. (Arctium minus)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARLA3 all of lower canada, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, N. and S. Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Hawaii, N. Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio and all states north of Pennsylvania and Maryland (Arctium lappa)
Photos: (Click on latin name after common name.)
Warnings: Care should be taken if harvesting the seed in any quantity since tiny hairs from the seed are toxic. Can cause allergic reactions. Contraindicated during prgnancy. PFAF warnings apply to any Burdock.
Common Name: Lesser Burdock (Arctium minus)
Appearance and Habitat: Waste ground, edges of woods, roadsides etc. Most of Europe, including Britain, south and east to N. Africa and the Causcasus. A biennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in). It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October.
Edible Uses: Root – raw or cooked. The best roots are obtained from young plants. Usually peeled and sliced. The roasted root is a coffee substitute. Young leaves and leaf stems – raw or cooked. Used as a potherb. Mucilaginous. It is best to remove the rind from the stem. Young flowering stem – peeled and eaten raw or cooked like asparagus. Seed sprouts.
Medicinal Uses: Burdock is one of the foremost detoxifying herbs in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine. Arctium lappa is the main species used, though this species has similar properties. The dried root of one year old plants is the official herb, but the leaves and fruits can also be used. It is used to treat conditions caused by an ‘overload’ of toxins, such as throat and other infections, boils, rashes and other skin problems. The root is thought to be particularly good at helping to eliminate heavy metals from the body. The plant is antibacterial, antifungal and carminative. It has soothing, mucilaginous properties and is said to be one of the most certain cures for many types of skin diseases, burns, bruises etc. It is used in the treatment of herpes, eczema, acne, impetigo, ringworm, boils, bites etc. The plant can be taken internally as an infusion, or used externally as a wash. Use with caution. One-year old roots are alterative, aperient, blood purifier, cholagogue, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and stomachic. The seed is alterative, antibacterial, antifungal, antiphlogistic, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and hypoglycaemic. It is used in the treatment of colds with sore throat and cough, measles, pharyngitis, acute tonsillitis and abscesses. The crushed seed is poulticed onto bruises. The seed is harvested in the summer and dried for later use. The seed contains arctiin, this excites the central nervous system producing convulsions an increase in respiration and later paralysis. It also lowers the blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels. The leaves are poulticed onto burns, ulcers and sores.
Foot Notes: all http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Arctium+minus
Common Name: Great Burdock, Lappa (Arctium lappa)
Appearance and Habitat: Waste ground, preferring calcareous soils, it is sometimes found in meadows and woods. Most of Europe, including Britain, east to north Asia. A biennial growing to 2 m (6ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in). It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October.
Edible Uses: Root – raw or cooked. Very young roots can be eaten raw, but older roots are normally cooked. They can be up to 120cm long and 2.5cm wide at the top, but are best harvested when no more than 60cm long. Old and very long roots are apt to become woody at the core. Although it does not have much flavour the root can absorb other flavours. Young roots have a mild flavour, but this becomes stronger as the root gets older. The root is white but discolours rapidly when exposed to the air. Roots can be dried for later use. They contain about 2.5% protein, 0.14% fat, 14.5% carbohydrate, 1.17% ash. The root contains about 45% inulin. Inulin is a starch that cannot be digested by the human body, and thus passes straight through the digestive system. In some people this starch will cause fermentation in the gut, resulting in wind. Inulin can be converted into a sweetener that is suitable for diabetics to eat. Young leaves – raw or cooked. A mucilaginous texture. The leaves contain about 3.5% protein, 1.8% fat, 19.4% carbohydrate, 8.8% ash. Young stalks and branches – raw or cooked. Used like asparagus or spinach. They taste best if the rind is removed. The leaf stalks can be parboiled and used as a substitute for cardoons. The pith of the flowering stem can be eaten raw in salads, boiled or made into confections. A delicate vegetable, somewhat like asparagus in flavour. The seeds can be sprouted and used like bean-sprouts
Medicinal Uses: Burdock is one of the foremost detoxifying herbs in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine. The dried root of one year old plants is the official herb, but the leaves and fruits can also be used. It is used to treat conditions caused by an ‘overload’ of toxins, such as throat and other infections, boils, rashes and other skin problems. The root is thought to be particularly good at helping to eliminate heavy metals from the body. The plant is also part of a North American formula called essiac which is a popular treatment for cancer. Its effectiveness has never been reliably proven or disproven since controlled studies have not been carried out. The other herbs included in the formula are Rumex acetosella, Ulmus rubra and Rheum palmatum. The plant is antibacterial, antifungal, carminative. It has soothing, mucilaginous properties and is said to be one of the most certain cures for many types of skin diseases, burns, bruises etc. It is used in the treatment of herpes, eczema, acne, impetigo, ringworm, boils, bites etc. The plant can be taken internally as an infusion, or used externally as a wash. Use with caution. The roots of one-year old plants are harvested in mid-summer and dried. They are alterative, aperient, blood purifier, cholagogue, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and stomachic. The seed is alterative, antiphlogistic, depurative, diaphoretic and diuretic. Recent research has shown that seed extracts lower blood sugar levels. The seed is harvested in the summer and dried for later use. The crushed seed is poulticed onto bruises. The leaves are poulticed onto burns, ulcers and sores
Foot Notes: all http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Arctium+lappa
(Now, for Michael Moore.)
Appearance and Habitat: Burdock has large biennial with oval basal leaves, that are distinctly lighter below. It has a rough texture, similar to sandpaper. The first years growth is a rosette of basal leaves. In the second year it grows a stalk from the center that is heavily leaved, with alternate branches to a height of four or five feet. The stalk is terminated with purplish flowers a-top a thistle like bur. The burs end in a little back-hook thorn. As the burs mature they hold a number of dark seeds. This is a European plant which grows sporadically in the west at elevations of 5,000 to 8,000 feet. It can be mistaken for cocklebur, a smaller plant that is an annual. Cattle can spread the burs in mountain pastures. It can be found in older farming areas and around abandoned homesteads.
Medicinal Uses: Collect the seeds in the fall, after the plant has turned brown. It might take a rolling pin, or blender, to release the seed from the bur. First year roots can be dug in the fall or spring before they bloom, if you wait until the 2nd fall to dig the roots, they may be rotten. Burdock is a blood purifier. It works best for chronic, skin eruptions from acne to psoriasis. The seeds are an excellent diuretic to help with water retention and toxins in the kidneys. You can take a 1/2 teaspoon boiled in water, as a tea, up to three times a day. During pregnancy use the seeds only in the last trimester, not more than a 1/2 teaspoon in tea for the day, and then, only when needed for ankle swelling. A tincture of the seeds is an old herbal remedy for joint inflammations in the extremities. For the tincture of the seeds, take up to forty drops a day. However if there is skin eruptions around the joint take an equal amount of root tincture. Tea or tincture from the root, is a remedy through out Britain, for a prolapsed uterus from recent child birth. A strong root tea is useful in treating keratosis pilaris. Overall, Burdock should be taken in small frequent doses.
Foot Notes: all – Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West , 2nd Edition by Michael Moore, Pages 64-67, Publisher: Museum of New Mexico Press, Copyright 2003, ISBN #978-0-89013-454-2
Common Name: Cocklebur, Cadillos
Latin Name: Xanthium strumarium
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=XAST all states except Alaska, all of lower Canada.
Appearance and Habitat: Rough-stemmed plant with separate greenish male and female flower heads. The only other species of this genus occurring in North America is Spiny Clotbur (X. spinosum), which has tapering, shiny, veined leaves and distinctive 3-branched orangish spines at the point of each leaf attachment. A cocklebur was the inspiration for a Swiss engineer, George deMastral, in 1948, for the invention of Velcro. He examined the burs that stuck to his socks and discovered that they consisted of hundreds of tiny hooks, which attached themselves to anything loopy.(1) It is a widespread immigrant from the eastern states, growing to two feet in height, with large, rough three lobed leaves with long stems. Cockleburs are an inch long, egg shaped and covered with recurved barbs. The burs contain two nutlets about the size of shelled sunflower seeds.(2) River banks, lake shores, cultivated ground and pastures. A cosmopolitan plant, a locally established casual in Britain. An annualgrowing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in). It is hardy to zone 7. It is in flower from Jul to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October.(3)
Warnings: Poisonous. Most members of this genus are toxic to grazing animals and are usually avoided by them. The seed also contains toxins.(4)
Edible Uses: Leaves and young plants – cooked. They must be thoroughly boiled and then washed. Caution is advised, the plant is probably poisonous. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be used as a piñole. The seed can be ground into a powder and mixed with flour for making bread, cakes etc. The seed contains about 36.7% protein, 38.6% fat, 5.2% ash. It also contains a glycoside and is probably poisonous.(5)
Medicinal Uses: The leaves and root are anodyne, antirheumatic, appetizer, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, laxative and sedative. The plant is considered to be useful in treating long-standing cases of malaria and is used as an adulterant for Datura stramonium. An infusion of the plant has been used in the treatment of rheumatism, diseased kidneys and tuberculosis. It has also been used as a liniment on the armpits to reduce perspiration. The fruits contain a number of medically active compounds including glycosides and phytosterols. They are anodyne, antibacterial, antifungal, antimalarial, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, antitussive, cytotxic, hypoglycaemic and stomachic. They are used internally in the treatment of allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, catarrh, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, constipation, diarrhoea, lumbago, leprosy and pruritis. They are also used externally to treat pruritis. The fruits are harvested when ripe and dried for later use. The root is a bitter tonic and febrifuge. It has historically been used in the treatment of scrofulous tumours. A decoction of the root has been used in the treatment of high fevers and to help a woman expel the afterbirth. A decoction of the seeds has been used in the treatment of bladder complaints. A poultice of the powdered seed has been applied as a salve on open.(6) A tea of the leaves is a useful diuretic and is especially useful for chronic cystitis. A rounded teaspoon of chopped leaves in tea, morning and afternoon. Three to four pods boiled in water will end a bad case of diarrhea. A teaspoon of the crushed burs when boiled in water for 5-6 minutes has analgesic, diuretic, and antispasmodic effects and has been used for rheumatism and arthritis with success. Large quantities or constant use of the burs, can have toxic effects, especially so with the liver and intestinal tract. A tincture of the crushed seeds is an excellent first aid dressing with both a clotting and antiseptic action. The tincture makes an excellent first aid dressing. This herb is not recommended when pregnant.(7)
Foot Notes: (1) http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=XAST
Foot Notes: (2, 7)Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West , 2nd Edition by Michael Moore, Page 89, Publisher: Museum of New Mexico Press, Copyright 2003, ISBN #978-0-89013-454-2
Foot Notes: (3, 4, 5, 6) http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Xanthium+strumarium
Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.